In what seems to be turning into a recurring theme, I’m back again to tame some of our wildest records here in the Still Picture Branch…this time, famed warhorse, Sergeant Reckless!
As the de facto animal expert here in Stills, I’ve developed quite the nose for sniffing out hidden gems depicting our furry friends. Recently, a couple of requests landed on my desk for images of the Marine warhorse “Sergeant Reckless,” which piqued my curiosity.
Sergeant Reckless was a decorated warhorse who served during the Korean War as a pack horse for the Recoilless Rifle Platoon in the 5th Marine Regiment’s Anti-Tank Company. She played an integral part in the Battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953, braving the chaos of battle to make repeated supply trips, mostly alone, under enemy fire.
To find Sergeant Reckless, I started by searching through Series 127-GW: Photographs of World War II and Post World War II Marine Corps Activities, ca. 1939 – ca. 1958 for anything to do with ‘animals.’ While I was able to locate a subject heading for ‘animals,’ the images within were too generic. Not knowing much about the subject at the time, I decided to see if there was a chance Sgt. Reckless was listed in the Marine Corps Personality Index. It turns out the Marines have a particular fondness for their beastly brothers and sisters in arms, filing some of them by name, within the Series 127-PX: Indexes to Photographs of Marine Corps and Noted Civilian Personalities, 1927 – 1981, alongside their fellow Marines. This system held true for Sergeant Reckless, as photographs of the Sarge are filed in the ‘R’ section of the index.
Within 127-PX, I found a treasure trove of images depicting Sergeant Reckless, ranging from ceremonial shots with her foal, Private Fearless, to shots of her with her trainer. It became clear by the amount of images based on Sergeant Reckless that she meant a whole lot to her fellow Marines, leading me to create a finding aid based on the records I was able to locate, for whatever colt following may be out there.
Those looking for more images of Sergeant Reckless, or other military animals, are welcome to visit us in the Still Picture Branch at our facility in College Park, Maryland, or submit a request through email at Stillpix@nara.gov.